Speedway Digest Staff
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As the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth for Sunday’s AAA Texas 500, Kyle Busch is hoping to be doing the Texas Two-Step yet again in the Lone Star State.
After sweeping the NASCAR Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series races there in April, Busch, driver of the No. 18 SNICKERS Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), hopes he can at least equal his impressive weekend there in the spring, which saw him lead eight times for a race-high 171 laps and bring home his first Texas win in NASCAR’s top series.
While the April Sprint Cup win was his first there, Busch is no stranger to victory lane at Texas. H reeled off an incredible string of five consecutive NASCAR Nationwide Series wins there from April 2008 to April 2010. Add his two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series wins in November 2009 and 2010 and it’s no wonder Busch is eyeing three wins this weekend as he’s entered in the Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and Truck Series races.
Busch sits fifth in the Chase for the Sprint Cup standings with three races remaining, 36 points behind JGR teammate and Chase leader Matt Kenseth, and feels he has an excellent chance of winning all three remaining Sprint Cup races at Texas, Phoenix International Raceway and the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
That could all begin for Busch with his second Texas win of the year Sunday, when he and his SNICKERs team look to add yet another signature cowboy hat and six-shooters as race winner in the Lone Star State to Busch’s steadily growing trophy collection.
Canadian based Admiraal Racing driver, Kelly Admiraal, will make his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut at Phoenix International Raceway for the Nov. 9th ServiceMaster 200. Admiraal will drive the no. 56 entry for the newly formed team, Kapusta Racing, with primary sponsorship from Western Camp Services.
The 18 year old from Edmonton will also race at the Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 16th, for the Ford Ecoboost 300 Nationwide race. Kelly has competed in a number of NASCAR K&N West Series events throughout 2013, most notably at the Sonoma event with a 7th place finish for his first ever road course race.
“I’m very excited to make my NASCAR Nationwide Series debut at Phoenix,” said Admiraal. “I’m equally excited for the race at Miami as well and for 2014. These races will be great learning experiences for me and stepping stones for my career as I try to earn my stripes within NASCAR.
Overseen by his agency, Drive Motorsports International, Admiraal will use these two events to gain a comfortability with the Nationwide car and to fulfill licensing requirements with the series prior to entering the series full time in 2014.
Admiraal will also continue to compete in the K&N West Series through 2013 as well as various Super Late Model events in Western Canada where he is the 2012 Western Canadian Super Late Model Championship Rookie of the year as well as the 2011 Whelen Series Rookie of the year.
Admiraal Racing PR
Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) announced today the company will partner with the Twisted Tea Brewing Company on its No. 9 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford team beginning in 2014. The hard iced tea brewer will be an associate sponsor of the car driven by two-time Cup Series winner Marcos Ambrose during the 2014 season. In addition, Twisted Tea will serve as a primary sponsor of the team at Dover International Speedway during the fall race event.
Twisted Tea offers hard iced tea in eight flavors, all brewed to taste like real iced tea. Its logo will appear on the roof position of the No. 9 Ford for 18 events in 2014 along with the primary sponsorship at Dover. Twisted Tea found a kindred spirit in Ambrose, a driver known for enjoying a few twisted hobbies of his own, including panning for gold and karting.
"Marcos and NASCAR really fit our brand," said Jon London from Twisted Tea Brewing Company. "Marcos is always a threat to win on the tracks, and he has a little fun off the track just like our drinkers. Plus, NASCAR is a great atmosphere, and our drinkers love it. So we're looking forward to partnering with Richard Petty Motorsports and Marcos and to share that experience with our own fans across the country."
Ambrose will be entering his fourth year with RPM and the No. 9 race team in 2014. Since coming to the United States from Australia, the driver has proven to be a winner on the track and one of the sport's most popular and likeable personalities.
"It's a great day for Richard Petty Motorsports and our No. 9 race team," said Ambrose. "Next year is really shaping up to be a solid season with our race team only getting stronger. I think it's a great time for Twisted Tea to come on board and we're going to have a lot of fun together. I'm really looking forward to their partnership and driving our newly painted yellow No. 9 car."
Twisted Tea and Richard Petty Motorsports will bring this sponsorship to the race fans nationally through promotions across the country in bars, convenience and grocery stores, and a national sweepstakes that will allow one consumer and three of their closest friends to win the opportunity to be honorary crew members of the No. 9 race team.
Brian Moffitt, chief executive officer of Richard Petty Motorsports, sees Twisted Tea as a great partner for RPM and the sport of racing.
"Any time we can welcome a great product to NASCAR through Richard Petty Motorsports it's already a win," said Moffitt. "Twisted Tea will make our organization even better, but also make the race experience for our fans so much more fun and engaging. New fans will be introduced to Marcos and RPM through Twisted Tea's engaging retail and consumer activation."
Ambrose has two wins, three poles, 39 top-10 and 15 top-five finishes in his six-year Sprint Cup career.
Outback Steakhouse recently launched a new advertising campaign called “No Rules, Just Right” that puts focus on food quality and value, along with the “no worries” theme of Australian living. For Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), that slogan will embody his approach to the final three races of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Heading to Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth 12th in standings, 106 points behind Chase leaders Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson, it’s all about winning races for Newman and ending the season on a high note.
After a slow start to the season, Newman’s SHR team heated up over the summer months. A win in the 20th annual Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July placed the No. 39 team in contention for a wild card berth. After a controversial sequence of events that occurred in the final race of the regular season at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway, Newman headed to Chicago as a member of the 2013 Chase field.
Newman opened the Chase with a 10th-place finish at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, then won the pole the following week at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. Newman finished 16th, however, and began to see his title hopes fade. A 35th-place finish at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City and 38th-place finish last week at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway made those hopes disappear.
While it would take a major miracle for Newman to re-emerge as a factor in the championship Chase, he knows that by embracing a “No Rules, Just Win” attitude, he and his No. 39 team can certainly end the 2013 season on a roll. He’s got three solid chances to do so, beginning this weekend at Texas.
Newman enters Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 with a strong determination to turn around his team’s misfortunes. And while his stats may not shine in the Lone Star State, Texas is a track where the South Bend, Ind., native has long enjoyed racing thanks to the high speeds and multiple racing grooves.
In 20 starts at the 1.5-mile oval, Newman has one win, two poles, three top-five finishes and four top-10s. His lone win came in March 2003, when he started third and led 77 laps en route to the checkered flag. It was the second win of Newman’s Sprint Cup Series career.
So while Newman may be out of contention for the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship, he is certainly still a factor to win each of the final three events. With a strong record at the 1.5-mile racetracks as of late, Texas is the ideal place to get started.
Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth (TMS), known as the "No Limit's Wild Asphalt Circus," is the host of the 32nd Annual WinStar World Casino 350. The fast mile-and-a-half track is not only home to the Toyota Tundra, but home to the 20th race on the 2013 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) schedule. With nothing to lose, Coulter and the No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports team head to the "Lone Star State" with "No Limits," they are laying it all on the line in hopes of bringing home the iconic trophy - a cowboy hat.
Coulter entered the spring race at TMS with the highest average finish (5.2) of any driver in the field and was also the only driver to finish in the top 10 in each of the last four races. After qualifying 11th and running as high as sixth, the Miami Springs, Fla. native had high hopes of roping in another solid finish at the 1.5-mile track. However, a cut left rear tire just 54 laps into the WinStar World Casino 400 would send the No. 18 Toyota Tundra hard into the Turn 3 wall, causing extensive damage to the left rear. The crew would spend 89 laps in the garage making repairs to the Darrell Gwynn Foundation machine before getting back out with 24 laps remaining in the 167-lap event. The unfortunate event would relegate the third year driver to a 25th-place finish.
With a determined team behind him and all the horsepower underneath him, Coulter hopes to get back on the saddle and lasso in his first win of the 2013 season under the lights in Friday night's Truck Series event.
As far as Matt Crafton's concerned, Friday night's 16th annual WinStar World Casino 350K at Texas Motor Speedway -- where Crafton's riding a string of four consecutive top-six finishes -- comes at just the right time in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule for his No. 88 Fisher Nuts / Menards Toyota team.
After a caution-marred conclusion last weekend at Martinsville Speedway that knocked Crafton from running third with 12 laps to go to finishing a season's worst 17th, Crafton still has a 51-point lead over defending series champion James Buescher with three races left to run.
Crafton, who has a series-best 14 top-10 finishes and 16 lead-lap finishes in 25 career TMS starts -- plus two pole positions in the last five years -- counts Texas among his favorite racetracks for a very simple reason: the worn-out track surface emphasizes driver input.
"I definitely like Texas because it's a cool racetrack," Crafton said. "For the majority of the time, we've run really well there. The older the track's gotten the better it's become for us.
"So hopefully we can keep that momentum going and maybe get us a cowboy hat (that's awarded to the victor following the race, in Victory Lane)."
Crafton's certainly been consistent enough to make that a distinct possibility, in general and for sure at Texas, where he has an average start of 15.32 and an average finish of 10.76. Crafton's currently riding streaks of 36 consecutive races in the top 10 in the standings, 20 consecutive races in which he's finished on the lead lap and 40 consecutive races in which he's been running at the finish.
Those are championship-contending numbers, and Crafton's used that consistency to fashion his healthy advantage in the points. If Crafton starts Friday's race the most he could lose would be 40 points -- but that would require a perfect day by the race winner and a last-place finish for Crafton, who's the only driver in the series that's completed every lap run this season: 2,946 laps.
He'll try to continue that streak in a rather unique piece, a Tundra chassis that was loaned to Todd Bodine's ThorSport Racing team to run at Kansas -- where Crafton won but Bodine was involved in a vicious accident that wiped out the truck's front and rear "clips," or chassis components.
The truck was sent to Hopkins Enterprises in South Carolina where the chassis was rebuilt before it was finished in Sandusky and put back into Crafton's chassis rotation. He used the truck at the Chicagoland Speedway intermediate track, where it qualified eighth and finished fourth as part of Crafton's string of 16 consecutive top-10 finishes with which he opened the season.
"Those are the only two races it's run this year," Crafton said. "It was a really good, fast truck for us at Chicagoland and Todd was running good with it at Kansas as well, before he got taken out."
Even though more of Crafton's Texas top-10 finishes have come in TMS's June race, where Crafton finished second behind ThorSport Racing teammate Johnny Sauter a year ago, Crafton has finished fourth and sixth in his last two November races.
"The cooler temperatures we'll have this weekend mean the track will have a lot more grip and it'll be a lot faster," Crafton said. "The tires (grip) won't fall off as much just because it'll be so much cooler. When we race there in June it's always so hot and slippery."
Crafton just laughed at the month-to-month comparison at a track where the goal is to be able to run with a wide-open throttle. Counting the laps you're wide open isn't an option for a driver, Crafton noted with a smile.
"No, no counting," Crafton said. "You're usually just going 'wow' and holding your breath to be able to get through (a lap). It's a pretty exhilarating place, no question about it."
Crafton's current streak at Texas virtually coincides with the time long-time cohort Carl "Junior" Joiner has been his crew chief, since the start of the 2012 season.
Crafton, who's led the championship standings after the last 16 races, has a series-best 17 top-10 finishes in the 19 races held this season. He plans to make his NCWTS record-extending 314th consecutive start Friday night at Texas in an event that's the first of three NASCAR tripleheaders -- in conjunction with the Sprint Cup and Nationwide series -- that will close the season.
The Texas Truck Series weekend begins Thursday with a pair of practice sessions, from 6-7 p.m. ET and 7:30-9 p.m. Keystone Light Pole Qualifying to set the starting lineup is scheduled at 3:10 p.m. ET on Friday, with TV coverage on FOX Sports 1.
As the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth for race No. 20 on the 22-race schedule this season, owner-driver Kyle Busch will be back behind the wheel of the No. 51 ToyotaCare Tundra. With just three races remaining, the Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) team has slowly but surely climbed back into contention for the 2013 Truck Series owner's championship and currently finds themselves just 15 points behind the series leading No. 88 team.
The No. 88 team left Pocono (Pa.) Raceway eight races ago 53 points ahead of KBM's No. 51 entry, who at that time stood third in the championship battle. Over the last eight races, crew chief Rudy Fugle and his Toyota Racing team have reeled off seven top-10 finishes with four different drivers behind the wheel. Busch has led the charge collecting two of his four victories during that span, winning at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway and Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., and adding a runner-up finish at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. Rookie Chad Hackenbracht earned the team a runner-up finish at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario, while Erik Jones and Denny Hamlin have each contributed a top-10 finish.
Busch has nine career victories at "The Great American Speedway," including two in the Truck Series (2009 and 2010). Another victory Friday night is just what the No. 51 ToyotaCare team needs to keep lassoing in the No. 88 team in an effort to coral KBM's second Truck Series owner's championship in its four-year existence.
Ryan Blaney (@RyanBlaney22), driver of the No. 29 Cooper Standard Ford F-150, will make his third career start at Texas Motor Speedway in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) during the WinStar World Casino 350K, Friday night.
Earlier this season Blaney started sixth and finished eighth during a wild finish at Texas.
Doug Randolph will be calling the shots for Blaney this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.
The No. 29 BKR team currently sits sixth in the NCWTS driver points standings, 92 points back from first.
"Texas Motor Speedway is a really fun racetrack with a lot of character. I am looking forward to getting the Cooper Standard team back out there after a solid run in Martinsville. Friday night under the lights will be a great show." - Ryan Blaney
Brad Keselowski (@Keselowski), driver of the No. 19 Draw-Tite Ford F-150, will make his fifth start this season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) on Friday night at Texas Motor Speedway in the WinStar World Casino 350K.
Keselowski will pilot the No. 19 BKR Ford F-150 in his fourth career NCWTS start at Texas Motor Speedway.
This weekend, Keselowski will be aiming for the weekend triple, piloting the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang on Saturday and the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event.
Proud sponsor, Draw-Tite, will have guests on hand at Texas Motor Speedway for Friday night's race.
Crew chief, Chad Kendrick, will be calling the shots for Keselowski.
The No. 19 BKR team now sits third in the NCWTS owner points standings, 46 points back from first.
"It's always exciting to race in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. I can't wait to get my Draw-Tite Ford F-150 on track in Texas on Friday night. Hope we can start the triple header weekend off strong with a win and keeps the momentum going." - Brad Keselowski
The 2013 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup has no respect for conventional wisdom.
Think about it. Matt Kenseth led the standings by four points midway through this year's championship battle, as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series headed to Talladega for the sixth Chase race.
Kenseth has embraced restrictor-plate racing, having won the 2009 and 2012 Daytona 500s as well as the 2012 Chase race at Talladega.
Johnson, on the other hand, has said he'd gladly take a 10th-place finish at Talladega and watch the race from his couch.
Accordingly, conventional wisdom said Kenseth would extend his Chase lead at Talladega before the series moved to Martinsville.
That didn't happen. Johnson ran 13th at Talladega but led the most laps (47) and managed an eight-point swing over Kenseth, who finished a disappointing 20th at NASCAR's longest closed course.
A week later, the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers battled at NASCAR's shortest track, Martinsville, where Johnson's career record is vastly superior -- an average finish of 5.3 entering Sunday's race versus Kenseth's 15.8.
Accordingly, conventional wisdom said Johnson would extend his points lead at the paper-clip-shaped short track and begin to grind his way toward a sixth championship.
Wrong again. At Martinsville, it was Kenseth who led the most laps (202). That, combined with Kenseth's second-place finish to Johnson's fifth, deadlocked first place in the Chase standings with three races left.
True, Kenseth gave up the lead to race winner Jeff Gordon with 21 laps left, but the second-place run was the best in 11 years for the driver of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Was Kenseth elated with his effort? You be the judge.
"I have nothing to complain about," Kenseth said. "(You) just you always feel bad when you're leading at the end, and your crew puts you out front, and you can't hold on to win. So I'm disappointed about that.
"But, overall, what a great day."
For the low-key Kenseth, that's the functional equivalent of a victory jig down the full length of pit road.
For his part, Johnson tried to maintain an even strain after a fifth-place run that left him tied with Kenseth at the top of the standings.
"It's going to be a dogfight to the end -- the way that I would want to go racing for a championship, and I know that's exactly what the fans want to see," Johnson said. "We'll keep digging hard. We had a decent day today and see if we can't get this Lowe's Chevrolet to Victory Lane here soon."
Johnson may need to do just that. As it stands now, if the Chase should end in a tie, Kenseth would win the championship on a tiebreaker based on most victories (seven to Johnson's five). That's not a far-fetched outcome. Two years ago, the tiebreaker decided the title race between Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards in Stewart's favor.
Johnson acknowledged before Sunday's race at Martinsville that his primary focus is on Kenseth. The superstitious five-time champion completed a 20-mile run as part of his training during the week before the race -- because 20 is Kenseth's car number.
But is it fair to discount other competitors? With his win on Sunday, Jeff Gordon gained ground on both frontrunners and now stands third, 27 points behind Kenseth and Johnson.
Conventional wisdom says it would be highly unlikely for Gordon to make up nine points per race against both drivers ahead of him.
But as we've seen in the first seven weeks of NASCAR's playoff, nothing about this Chase is conventional.